My New Wife Has An Issue With My Son

Dear Sara,

My ex-wife and I divorced when my son was three years old and I have had custody since then. He is now seven years old. She just recently started to exercise her parental rights every other weekend. I am remarried and although my wife is awesome with our two kids she says she can no longer stand my son’s behavior towards her. Although I think some of his behavior is just selective hearing, she insists that he ignores her and has selfish behavior. She has started to ignore him and I don’t feel this is the best answer to the problem. I have tried to talk with her about it but she says she knows no other way to handle it. Help!


Dear Ken,

Step-parenting is not an easy task. Your son has found a way to be really irritating to your wife and she has retaliated by punishing by ignoring. It appears that you are minimizing the problem. Your wife needs some serious backup if she is going to parent your child. Let your son know that there will be consequences (loss of game or computer) if he ignores his stepmom.

If his mother has been out of the picture for some time, he may be feeling some conflict about where his loyalties lie. Give him an opportunity to talk about this with you. However, kids often have trouble expressing how they feel. Be sure to back up your wife in her discipline of your son. Have you heard the expression “if mama’s not happy nobody’s happy.” Give her your support in this.


Getting My Sons To Get Along

Dear Sara,

I have two sons ages fourteen and sixteen. I can’t tell you how many arguments and fights I have had to referee. This rivalry has been going on since they were toddlers. They each want to best the other. They are both good at sports and are very competitive. How can I get them to get along?

Dear Kerry,

Have you given any thought to how you play into this rivalry? This could be a bid for your attention with the winner getting your praise or the loser sympathy. Also, you may be inadvertently fueling the fire by comparing your two sons. Try not to let them draw you into their conflicts. They will be better off if you let them settle things between the two of them.

If you don’t feel that you have played a part in their games then it may be that your sons, being naturally competitive, have found on some level that this is fun for them. Your best bet may be to keep them separated. Encourage them to develop their own interests. In the next few years, your sons will grow and mature. Their rivalry maybe something in the past that are either forgotten or laughed about. They will probably become good friends and buddies.

Dating After Divorce

Dear Sara,

I have been divorced for three years and I am considering dating again. I have a boy age eleven and a girl nine. Are there any guidelines regarding how to introduce a new boyfriend into the family?

Dear Didi,

It may be better to postpone introducing your new boyfriend into the family until you think that you may have a serious relationship. It could be very confusing for your kids to meet a series of men. Since the man in your life has been their father, whether a good relationship for you or not, they will probably feel conflicted about any new relationships that you have. It may be OK to let them know where you are going and what your plans are but it’s not a good idea to confide in them about your relationships even though you may be excited and want to talk about it.
When you feel that you have found someone that you could share your life with, introduce him gradually. Give the kids time to get to know him. Even if you think you may have someone who will be a permanent relationship, it may not work out the way you think it will. Be cautious and take your time.

We Are Barely Keeping Our Heads Above Water

Dear Sara,

My husband and I both work full time and are barely keeping our heads above water financially. I feel stressed because I never seem to have enough time or enough money. My two kids ages ten and twelve don’t want to help out around the house and I just end up just giving up with the housework and letting it go. I hate the way things look but I am tired of yelling. I need some help from the kids but how do I get hem to cooperate?

Dear Leona,

Your kids are definitely old enough to help out with chores around the house and they wouldn’t be as well of financially if you didn’t work and stayed home to take care of them and the house.

Stress can be really hard on your body and sometimes can make you physically ill. Let your kids know that you are not supermom and can’t possibly do everything. It’s time for them to step up and help out. Enlist them with a spirit of cooperation rather than being grumpy or yelling.

What motivates your kids? If you are giving them money without their cooperation then it’s time to put them on an allowance that they have to earn. This way you can withhold money if their chores are not done. There are chores that have to be done daily or weekly. Assign a daily chore to each kid and rotate the chores weekly. You can’t make your kids help out but you can point them in the right direction with rewards and punishment. You deserve some time for yourself once in a while. Take care of yourself.

In Love With An Older Man

Dear Sara,

I’m in love with an older man. I’m sixteen and he’s my best friend’s father. I know he likes me because he says nice things and sometimes he gives me a hug. I haven’t told anybody yet how I feel. I wish I could tell him but I’m afraid. In my head I know it’s wrong but I can’t help how I feel. I can see it would be a big mess if he liked me back but I can’t help but feel that my life would be perfect if that would happen. Should I tell him how I feel?

Dear RJ,

You are getting on very dangerous ground here. You are talking about a man the same age as your father and is married to your best friend’s mother. If you tell him how you feel he will be very uncomfortable around you because there is no way he would want to have a relationship with a sixteen-year-old girl. There are words like illegal, unethical and immoral that apply here. Even a twenty-one-year-old man is too old for you. You can’t help how you feel but you can help how you behave. This feeling will go away with time especially when you find someone your own age. The best thing you can do for now is to try to conquer these feelings and look for someone more appropriate. Be strong.

I Can’t Keep Up With My Wife’s Spending

Dear Sara,

My wife grew up in a household where her father drank and gambled away any money they had and she pretty much lived in poverty. We’ve been married for four years and have a two year old who is the joy of my life. I love my wife but she has a really bad spending problem. She is often overdrawn at the bank. She has her own account because she never wrote down anything she spent. She signs up for credit cards, maxes them out and opens a new one. I try to keep up with what she is spending but I’m becoming overwhelmed. I make a decent salary but I can’t keep up with her spending. How can I control her?

Dear Ron,

Your wife’s spending is probably similar to her Dad’s drinking and gambling. There isn’t any way you can get control of this situation. She has to do that. She has to see that she is putting her marriage in jeopardy and want to make a change herself. Sit down with her and let her know that her spending habits are jeopardizing your marriage. Explain to her what you think is a reasonable budget including paying off the credit cards. She may also need some counseling with someone who is qualified in this area. If she doesn’t cooperate then you might want to seek the advice of a lawyer.

When Moving On Is Hard To Do

Dear Sara,

I wanted your advice about my situation of feeling all alone and don’t know how to move on. I was married to my now ex-husband for ten years. He all of a sudden started seeing a co-worker nine years younger than him and married also. He told me on a Friday that he was leaving on Sunday. This devastated me. He had been a stepdad to both my children since they were four and eleven. He didn’t even tell my son bye.

I had lost my parents five weeks apart unexpectedly just three years before this happened. We have been divorced since December 2017. There was no closure and I don’t know why he left us and it’s like I can’t get past the hurt and have no interest in leaving the house or doing anything. Any advice on how to move on? I don’t have any friends that I talk to because I invested all my time with my family.

Life has come to a stop for me it seems like. Please tell me how you just stop loving someone you have been with for twelve years. Any good advice on how to make the pain stop. It has affected my son who is now seventeen tremendously and he blames me for the divorce. He says I make him leave when I stood by this man through all him mental and anger issues. Any good advice on how to make the pain stop and feeling like I have no one in the world to turn to? I would appreciate any advice you might have for me. I would like my name to be anonymous, please.
Thank you.

Dear Anon,

You have been living with this pain for three years. I this man truly worth this? You said you put up with his mental and anger issues so must not have been that perfect. Sounds like this guy did you a big favor. He left your life in a really hurtful way but it may be something that needed to happen. It’s sad that your son is so attached to him but maybe he will eventually see that it isn’t your fault.
I know personally how devastating it is to lose your parents in a short period of time. You have my deepest sympathy.

All you can do is pick up the pieces and go on. Take care of yourself physically and mentally. It sounds like you are depressed. If you can’t get over this by yourself you might want to see someone at your local mental health center.

In order to put your life back together, you need a plan. Write down any and everything you can think of an see what comes to your mind. Maybe you can see where your life needs to be.

Good luck.

How Do I Get Through To My Daughter?

Dear Sara,

My sixteen-year-old daughter will confide in me from time to time and when I try to help her solve whatever problem she has she rejects any advice I give her. I want to help but I feel frustrated. How do I handle this?

Dear Michelle,

What you need here is to be a good listener. Apparently, she just needs a sounding board and someone who cares about her problems. Try not to be judgemental and if she comes up with a good solution be sure and let her know that you approve of her decision. Your daughter needs your approval but she also needs to practice her own problem-solving skills.

Teen years are a time for kids to learn to think for themselves. They are forming their own identities and are working on gaining independence. If you want your daughter to continue confiding in you then it’s important that you keep her confidence. Once you share her problems with someone else, she will no longer feel safe in sharing her problems with you. If your daughter is coming to you to share her problems, this is a sign that you have a good relationship with her.

Pregnant Girlfriend Doesn’t Want To Get Married

Dear Sara,

I am nineteen years old and have a job and my girlfriend is eighteen. She is pregnant and refuses to marry me. She said she can raise the baby by herself and doesn’t love me enough to get married. I think the baby needs two parents. How can I get her to listen to reason?

Dear Cal,

Your girlfriend has apparently made up her mind. Right now your job is to be there for her and that baby. If she’ll agree, take her to her doctor’s appointments and be there if she needs anything. Let her know that you want to be there when the baby is born. If you can manage, take some time off to help her after the baby is born if she needs you. Even if you’re not married, you can be in this baby’s life if you show up when you are needed. Just do the best you can.

Son’s New Girlfriend

Dear Sara,

My son is fourteen years old and has a girlfriend. She calls him all of the time and wants him to meet her. She won’t leave him alone. If I answer the phone I tell her he’s not here. I don’t know what to do to discourage this little vixen. Any suggestions?

Dear Meredith,

Your son seems fairly passive in all this drama. At fourteen he is probably interested in girls but mostly from a distance. The fact that this young lady is pursuing him could well be a turn-off to him. Kids this age get infatuated often but it usually doesn’t last long. Since they need transportation it will be difficult for them to get together. I wouldn’t be surprised if this little case of puppy love will be over soon. If you try to interfere you may make it seem more important than it is. Just be patient and wait for the break-up.